News from the FDA/CDC

CDC issues COVID-19 vaccine guidance for underlying conditions


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued updated guidance for people with underlying medical conditions who are considering getting the coronavirus vaccine.


“Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC said in the guidance, posted on Dec. 26. “mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions provided they have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.”

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA, or messenger RNA.

The CDC guidance had specific information for people with HIV, weakened immune systems, and autoimmune conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and Bell’s palsy who are thinking of getting the vaccine.

People with HIV and weakened immune systems “may receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, they should be aware of the limited safety data,” the CDC said.

There’s no information available yet about the safety of the vaccines for people with weakened immune systems. People with HIV were included in clinical trials, but “safety data specific to this group are not yet available at this time,” the CDC said.

Cases of Bell’s palsy, a temporary facial paralysis, were reported in people receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in clinical trials, the Food and Drug Administration said Dec. 17.

But the new CDC guidance said that the FDA “does not consider these to be above the rate expected in the general population. They have not concluded these cases were caused by vaccination. Therefore, persons who have previously had Bell’s palsy may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.”

Researchers have determined the vaccines are safe for people with GBS, a rare autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks nerves just as they leave the spinal cord, the CDC said.

“To date, no cases of GBS have been reported following vaccination among participants in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials,” the CDC guidance said. “With few exceptions, the independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices general best practice guidelines for immunization do not include a history of GBS as a precaution to vaccination with other vaccines.”

For months, the CDC and other health authorities have said that people with certain medical conditions are at an increased risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19.

A version of this article first appeared on

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